What is diversity?
A diverse organisation is one that values difference. Recognise that people with different backgrounds, cultures, genders, ages, outlooks, attitudes, skills and experiences can bring new ideas and fresh concepts to your group. A diverse group will draw on the widest possible range of views and experiences. If you can successfully manage diversity, your group will help to nurture creativity and innovation.
Funders like to see diverse groups. There have been massive demographic changes. For example, people are living longer, we are more ethnically diverse, fewer people getting married, and there is increasing recognition of differences in sexuality.
- Present a welcoming face – more welcoming to volunteers, client groups and the public
- Provide beneficial new ideas and fresh approaches
- Attract more volunteers and service users
- Are more representative, and more able to respond to the needs of your local community
Diverse groups are able to:
- Experience a reduced volunteer turnover
- Access wider pools of talent
- Develop closer links with a broader client base
- Improve their public image
- Enjoy a greater motivation of volunteers who perceive they will be treated fairly
- Show better overall financial performance.
Moral argument, is it the right thing to do?
Diversity acknowledges that everyone has the right to contribute to activities, grow within the work place and express their views and beliefs in a manner sensitive to those around them.
Keeping out of the courts and ahead of the law
There is no legislation that specifically deals with diversity but it is covered in various statutes See: Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, Disability Discrimination Act 1996, Human Rights Act 1998, Freedom of Information Act 2000.
Barriers to volunteering Ethnocentrism: the belief by the majority culture that “the norms values and needs of the majority culture are the most desirable”:
- Perceptions of formal volunteering as a white middle class activity
- Formal management processes and institutional racism
- Costs of volunteering
- Lack of knowledge about voluntary opportunities
- Poor language skills
- Family responsibilities
- Location of voluntary opportunities and transport
- Religious and cultural differences.
- Access Practical support
- Recruitment materials make no specific reference
- Fear of losing benefits
- Lack of training opportunities
- Lack of confidence
- Prejudice among volunteers in group
- Perceived lack of skills
- Lack of self-esteem
- Attitude of mind/personality
10 point plan for diversification
1. Get all volunteers on board. Encourage a shared understanding of diversity. This could be done through a programme of training and awareness within your group
2. Conduct a diversity audit – find out if your volunteers reflect your local and wider community
3. Consultation – with all those who have an interest in your group and any additional audience you intend to target
4. Set up a diversity working group to drive forward diversity management within your group
5. Improve communication within your group – diversity thrives on openness and good communication
6. Develop a diversity statement or policy
7. Review your work in the light of your commitment to diversity
8. Increase the diversity of your trustees
9. Look at the way you recruit and support your volunteers – think about different religious holidays, provide a good induction etc.
10. Conduct a periodic review to ensure you are remaining a diversified group.